Where do we go from here?
Although the space is minimal, the “4 Only 1” gallery is currently one of the few exhibition venues visual art students have left on campus since their former gallery was converted into music practice rooms.
Other potential venues include the Woodbury Museum of Art, the fifth floor of the UVU library and the Student Center art wall. However, there are multiple issues with these exhibition spaces.
The opportunity to exhibit at these locations can be costly (it costs money to enter artwork for exhibition at the Woodbury), they often need to be reserved months in advance, they provide little security and spaces such as the Student Center do not provide a professional exhibition experience.
“Professors try to emphasize to their students the importance of respecting artwork, and for this we need a professional exhibition space,” said Patrick Wilkey, AVC professor. “We can’t just find a wall, nail something to it and call it gallery space. Too often there are tables and booths set up in front of the artwork in the Student Center; it is not remotely close to gallery space.”
Much of the confusion has stemmed from the fact that no formal explanation has been given to those most affected by the change, who are puzzled that they weren’t included in the decision.
“The vice presidents deal with space decisions, and while I was interim dean of the Arts and Visual Communication department, they literally walked around the campus trying to come up with some ideas with how to respond to different space needs and requests that had been presented in the Planning Budgeting Accountability (PBA) meeting,” said current Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathie Debenham. “They saw the Gallery 401 and decided that would be a place where they would put the music practice rooms. They just came up with that idea without checking with anybody … I don’t think it was done with any sense of trying to take something from one and give it to the other — it seemed like a logical allocation of resources. They didn’t know there had been time spent and resources spent to try to make that into the gallery that it was, so I think it was kind of information passing each other is what happened.”
The question now to be addressed is: What will be done to accommodate those jilted by this allocation? The need of art students hasn’t diminished along with their gallery space.
“We had conversations with the Student Center and their exhibit space, the library with their exhibit space — we even talked about what exhibit space there could be in the BA building and the main LA building hallway,” Debenham said. “Marcus Vincent was considering display cases that would take care of some of the security issues and that could accommodate three-dimensional art as well as two-dimensional art. As far as I was involved with it, we had come to a place where we had come up with some alternatives, where it has gone from there I don’t know.”
The situation is becoming clearer, but what everyone wants is resolution and the hope for professional exhibition space in the future. With the new appointment of Dr. Patrick M. Jones to the position of dean of the School of the Arts, hopefully the attainment of adequate gallery space will be made a priority to be promptly realized.